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Old Posted Jun 3, 2014, 7:17 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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How Solar Will Destroy The Power Companies, In 5 Easy Steps
Rob Wile
Jun. 3, 2014, 10:13 AM

Barclays recently downgraded the entire U.S. electric utilities sector to "underweight" on the threat posed by widespread adoption of solar-storage. These systems allow homeowners to use rooftop solar panels and a battery to cut all but the figurative emergency backup cord to their local electric grid, putting a severe strain on an industry that has been a defacto monopoly.

The firm's sweeping case focused in large part on debt markets' apparent ignorance to challenge utilities are facing. We wanted to zero in on the astonishingly simple steps that makes Barclays lays out to make shaking up utilities quite possible.

1) Solar prices come down

2) The defection spiral commences

3) Utilities flail around in their state capitols seeking relief

4) The decommissioning process begins

5) The market turns

America's Sunniest State Has Become The Battleground For The Country's Biggest Fight Over Solar Power
Rob Wile
Jun. 2, 2014, 8:21 PM

You'd think expanding solar energy in Arizona, the state with the country's highest level of solar insolation, would be a breeze.

But last year, the state's Department of Revenue ruled that existing statutes suggest homeowners who install solar panels on their roofs are subject to a $140 surcharge on their property taxes.

Last month, the department further clarified that only homeowners who lease panels would face the tax — little comfort to those taking part in the fastest-growing segment of residential solar installations.

What prompted that first ruling remains unclear to this day. Whatever its origins, it is still in place.

Today, TUSK, a pro-renewables conservative group whose members include SolarCity and SunRun, launched its latest salvo in a campaign to reverse the department's interpretation, releasing an ad that calls on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to override the department's ruling. The coalition also announced last week that there will be a rally at the state capitol to protest the interpretation.

"It's a terrible tax for Arizona and a political gift for the Democrats," Barry Goldwater Jr., the head of TUSK, says in the ad. A recent TUSK-sponsored poll found 77% of Arizonans would be less likely to vote for an election candidate if they proposed ending support for solar.

The utility industry's opposition to solar has been well documented, but it seems to have grown most intense in Arizona, where the solar industry has accused the chairman of the state's electric utility, Don Brandt, of personally lobbying in favor of a bill that would codify the department's interpretation into law. The group that owns the utility spent more than $3 million last year on a campaign to peel back solar subsidies. The utility argues non-solar customers are hurt by the incentives.

We just wrote about how Barclays believes it's already too late for utility companies to achieve anything more than short-term speedbumps to solar adoption.

Watch the Meteoric Rise of First-Quarter PV Installations in the US
Q1 PV installations have grown nearly tenfold since 2010.

Mike Munsell
June 2, 2014

According to the Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight report released last week, the U.S. installed 1,330 megawatts of PV in the first quarter of the year. This is the second-biggest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar industry and by far the largest first quarter ever.

The chart below illustrates the nearly tenfold growth the PV market has seen over the past five first quarters.


Solar power storage system sales set to soar in Germany
03. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Intersolar Europe 2014, Markets & Trends, Trade show | By: Edgar Meza

A "quiet revolution" is taking place in the country's PV industry: a number of factors are coming together that will result in a boom in PV energy storage solutions, according to Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

While German political leaders and the media have largely focused on smart grids as the answer to increasing grid demand and subsequent market price fluctuations, Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) says storage solutions are already helping to solve the problem and predicts that demand for storage systems will soon explode in the country.

Indeed GTAI -- the German Economic Affairs and Energy Ministry's foreign trade and investment promotion agency -- says "a quiet revolution has been taking place in the photovoltaic industry."

German solar photovoltaic generation peaked at around 15 GW on May 11 -- a record high that caused prices to sink briefly into the negative, GTAI notes.

"Balancing supply with demand in the grid presents operators with a significant challenge and leads to market price fluctuations," says GTAI renewable energies manager Tobias Rothacher. "That is where storage solutions come into play."

Storage is a major topic at this year's Intersolar Europe conference and exhibition in Munich, which runs June 2-6.

"Many solar installations will have paid for themselves in the next couple of years and some will soon reach the end of their 20-year feed-in tariff contract," adds Rothacher, who advises and supports international companies planning to invest in Germany.

Australian solar breakthrough – ‘giant step’ in race against coal
By Sophie Vorrath on 3 June 2014

An ARENA-backed, CSIRO-developed solar thermal demonstration project has notched up a significant win for the technology, generating the highest temperature steam ever produced using energy from the sun.

The world-first achievement at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle, NSW, has been hailed as a game changing breakthrough for renewables, demonstrating solar’s potential to power steam turbines equivalent to those currently used by advanced coal-fired plants.

‘‘Instead of relying on burning fossil fuels to produce supercritical steam, this breakthrough demonstrates that the power plants of the future could instead be using the free, zero-emission energy of the sun to achieve the same result,’’ said CSIRO’s energy director, Alex Wonhas.

The $5.7 million project (to which ARENA contributed $2.8 million) is part of a broader collaboration with leading solar thermal developer Abengoa Solar to advance solar storage and deliver renewable electricity around the clock.

Comprising two test plants – which concentrate light from 600 mirrors into receiver towers where water is heated to produce steam that drives turbines – it has shown it is possible for solar thermal generated supercritical steam to reach temperatures of up to 570°C and pressure of 23.5 megapascals.

Project leader Robbie McNaughton says his team now plans to do more testing, under even more extreme conditions, to see how far they can push the technology.

“Achieving the critical combination of high pressure and high temperature is a giant step,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht on Tuesday. “It demonstrates solar energy has the potential to effectively power the steam turbines currently used by advanced coal-fired plants.

“In addition to being a renewable energy world first, this landmark development stands to deliver greater plant efficiency as well as advance a diverse energy future for Australia.”


Britain's solar boom seen even bigger this year
By Nina Chestney
LONDON Tue Jun 3, 2014 10:12am EDT

(Reuters) - Britain's growth in solar capacity could be greater this year than last as firms snap up government subsidies for new large plants before they come to an end, said Foresight Group, a major British asset manager investing in the solar sector.

Last year, Britain installed a record of 1.5 gigawatts of new solar photovotaic (PV) capacity and overtook Italy to become the second-biggest European market after Germany, according to a major industry association.

The rapidly falling cost of solar PV technology has fueled the installation of more capacity in Europe, and UK solar developers have also benefited from generous government subsidies in recent years.

Faster-than-expected deployment has led to a higher subsidy bill, however, prompting Britain to end support for new large-scale solar plants two years earlier than expected.

Last month, the government said it would end subsidies under its Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme for new solar projects over 5 megawatts (MW) from April 2015, instead of in 2017.

"The UK solar market experienced the fastest growth in Europe last year," Jamie Richards, partner and head of infrastructure at the Foresight Group, said in an interview.

"This year will be even bigger for UK solar growth due to a cut-off deadline for subsidies. After that, growth will likely take a pause as new capacity is rolled out," he added.

Foresight Group is an infrastructure and private equity investment firm with more than 1.1 billion pounds ($1.8 billion)of assets under management. It holds more than 650 million pounds of solar plant assets in Britain, Italy, Spain and the United States.
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Old Posted Jun 4, 2014, 5:23 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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It's Probably Going To Get More Expensive For Americans To Buy Solar Panels
Rob Wile
Jun. 3, 2014, 7:08 PM

It's probably going to get more expensive for Americans to buy solar panels.

The Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that it will impose duties ranging from 18.56% to 35.21% on solar cells and modules from China.

Shayle Kann, senior vice president for research at Greentech Media, said that while Commerce's final ruling won't come for another few months, this is a strong indication of where the department will ultimately come down.

"Even if you take these alone — average tariffs for most [Chinese and Taiwanese] manufacturers of 27% —that’s significant," he told BI. "If you take average panel prices today, which is in the low $0.70s [per watt], and increase it by 27%, you’re approaching $1 a watt, which is very significant compared to where we are today."

Utility-scale solar projects, which comprises the largest share of both new and overall PV installations in the U.S., are likely to be most affected, since they are the most price sensitive, Kann said.

"27% will certainly kill a lot of projects at margin," Kann said.

The tariffs were sought by the American unit of SolarWorld, a panel manufacturing firm based in Germany. The firm has accused the Chinese of offering illicit subsidies, and separately accused China and Taiwan of illegal dumping. Today's ruling concerns the subsidies.

China News
U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up
Updated June 4, 2014 2:59 a.m. ET

BEIJING—China warned Wednesday that a preliminary U.S. decision to close a loophole that allowed some Chinese solar-equipment makers to avoid tariffs would worsen trade relations between the two countries.

Solar-energy products became a flashpoint in trade relations between China, the U.S. and the European Union as the global financial crisis slowed the implementation of big solar-energy projects just as production capacity for solar panels was growing sharply.

In the latest move, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Tuesday it would seek to impose antisubsidy tariffs ranging from nearly 19% to 35% on Chinese solar panels, even if the panels contained solar cells made outside of China. Solar panels are made from solar cells.

China's Ministry of Commerce said it is "strongly dissatisfied" with the U.S. decision. The move "is an abuse of trade remedies, has an obvious hint of trade protectionism and will inevitably lead to the escalation of trade disputes between China and the U.S.," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The most recent U.S. probe into Chinese solar products was prompted by a petition filed by SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of SolarWorld AG, German's biggest solar-panel maker. SolarWorld claimed that some Chinese solar-equipment companies avoided U.S. tariffs by shipping solar-cell components to overseas locations like Taiwan, where they were used to make solar cells that were shipped back to China for assembly into solar panels.

The panels therefore weren't subject to U.S. antisubsidy and antidumping tariffs imposed in 2012 on Chinese solar panels that contain solar cells made in China.

The new tariffs will require a final ruling by the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission. A similar ruling to close a loophole in antidumping tariffs is expected in late July, SolarWorld said in a statement.

The Chinese ministry said it hopes the U.S. will proceed cautiously as it further investigates the issue, adding that it could take actions to protect the rights of Chinese solar-equipment manufacturers if necessary.

Trina Solar Ltd. , one of China's largest solar-panel makers, said it was disappointed by the ruling and that SolarWorld's allegations were unfounded. It didn't refer to the practice of outsourcing solar-cell production. "Trina Solar's transactions with all its customers in the U.S. are in full accordance with international trade practices," it said.

Trina Solar was named in SolarWorld's petition.

Although U.S. solar-equipment manufacturers have been hit by imports of cheap solar panels from China, falling prices have created a booming business for U.S. solar installers such as SolarCity Corp. SCTY +1.00% The U.S.-based Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy described the latest decision on tariffs as a major setback for the U.S. solar industry that would raise the cost of solar power and cost jobs in "one of fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy."

The ruling may not hurt Chinese solar manufacturers that much. They are already pivoting away from the U.S., where demand is slowing, to feed a growing appetite for solar panels back home.

Nature | News Feature
Solar energy: Springtime for the artificial leaf
Researchers make headway in turning photons into fuel.

Jessica Marshall
04 June 2014

On a bright spring morning in Pasadena, California, the air is rich with the smells of cut grass and flowers. Photosynthesis seems effortless here: the fronds and blooms that line the walkways of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) bask in the sunlight, quietly using its energy to store sugars, stretch their leaves, deepen their roots and tend to their cellular processes.

Inside Caltech's Jorgensen Laboratory, however, more than 80 researchers are putting a lot of effort into doing the leaf's job using silicon, nickel, iron and any number of other materials that would be more at home inside a cell phone than a plant cell. Their gleaming new labs are the headquarters of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a 190-person research programme funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) with US$116 million over five years. The centre's goal is to use sunlight to make hydrogen and other fuels much more efficiently than real leaves ever made biomass.

The researchers are pursuing this goal with a certain urgency. Roughly 13% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide come from transportation, so phasing out polluting fuels is a key environmental target. One approach is to replace cars and light trucks with electric vehicles charged by solar cells or wind — but that cannot tackle the whole problem. Nathan Lewis, an inorganic chemist at Caltech and JCAP's scientific director, says that some 40% of current global transportation cannot be electrified. For example, barring a major breakthrough, there will never be a plug-in hybrid plane: no craft could hold enough batteries. Liquid fuels are unbeatable when it comes to convenience combined with compact energy storage.

That is why funding agencies around the world — and at least a few private companies — are putting unprecedented resources into making fuels using power from the Sun, which is not only carbon-free but effectively inexhaustible. JCAP stands out not only for its scale, but also for its ambition. It is one of five Energy Innovation Hubs created by the DOE beginning in 2010 to focus on specific problems using basic research, applied research and engineering. JCAP has promised to deliver a working prototype of an artificial leaf by the time its initial grant runs out in 2015.


Cumulative Global Solar PV Demand Surpasses 150 GW in 1H’14
Posted by Michael Barker in Solarbuzz, Authors (post by authors), Solar on June 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

The global solar PV industry continues to show strong growth, with over 150 GW of solar PV installed across the world. The industry has steadily grown over the past several years, increasing from an installed base of only 5 GW in 2005 to almost 200 GW forecast by the end of 2014.

This growth was led originally by European countries, which between 2005 and 2011 accounted for 60-85% of annual global demand. The last few years have seen steadily declining demand shares in Europe however, and in 2014 annual European demand is forecast to account for less than 25% of global demand while demand from the major Asian countries (China, India, Australia, Thailand, and Japan) is projected to account for over half of worldwide solar PV demand (up from 10% demand share in 2010).


I guess because they don't have established, politically-powerful fossil-fuel industries:

Developing countries outpacing leading industrial nations in global renewable energy capacity
04. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Edgar Meza

Of the 144 countries with renewable energy support policies and targets in place, 95 are developing nations. The rise of developing world support contrasts with declining incentives and growing uncertainty in Europe and the U.S., says REN21.

The number of emerging economy nations with policies in place to support the expansion of renewable energy has surged more than six-fold in just eight years, from 15 developing countries in 2005 to 95 early this year, according to REN21's Renewables 2014 Global Status Report.

Those 95 developing nations now make up the vast majority of the 144 countries with renewable energy support policies and targets in place, the report says, adding that the rise of developing world support contrasts with declining support and renewables policy uncertainty and even retroactive support reductions in some European countries and the United States.

Launched at the UN-hosted Sustainable Energy for All in New York, the 2014 report credits support policies with a central role in driving global renewable energy capacity to a new record level last year — more than 1,560 GW, up more than 8% from 2012. More than 22% of the world's power production now comes from renewable sources.

"Markets, manufacturing, and investment expanded further across the developing world, clearly illustrating that renewables are no longer dependent upon a small handful of countries," REN21 reports.


"Global perceptions of renewable energy have shifted considerably," says Arthouros Zervos, REN21 chair.

"Over the last 10 years, continuing technology advances and rapid deployment of many renewable energy technologies have demonstrated that the question is no longer whether renewables have a role to play in the provision of energy services, but rather how we can best increase the current pace to achieve a 100% renewables future with full energy access for all.

"For this to be become reality, current thinking needs to change: continuing the status quo of a patchwork of policies and actions is no longer sufficient. Instead, technology developments, finance models as well as stable and predictable renewable energy policies need to be systematically linked across the public and private sectors in order to support and drive the transition process."

Christine Lins, REN21's executive secretary, adds: "The past decade has set the wheels in motion for a global transition to renewables, but a concerted and sustained effort is needed to achieve it. With increasingly ambitious targets and innovative policies, renewables can continue to surpass expectations and create a clean energy future."

Brazil's first PV auction set for October
04. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Blanca Díaz López

For the first time ever, PV projects will be included in a specific category in a national auction in Brazil. Winning projects are to start operation on October 1, 2017.

The Brazilian Ministry of Energy and Mines has set the date of the first auction that will have a specific category for PV projectson for October 10.

This reserve energy auction, in which there is also a category for wind and a category for biomass, is open to projects with over 5 MW in the PV category.

According to a resolution from the ministry published on Monday, winning projects are to start operations October 1, 2017. The contracts that are closed for PV projects as part of the auction will last for 20 years.

The government has set July 10 as the deadline for the projects that will participate in the auction to apply for the authorization with the Brazilian federal energy planning company Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE). Projects that are already registered to obtain technical authorizations for the A-3 and A-5 auctions this year -- the A-5 auction that takes place in September is open to solar projects -- can apply for an easier registration with the EPE.

The Brazilian government has not yet set the maximum price for PV in the auction. The number of projects that can win tenders at the auction has also not been defined. Last week EPE official José Carlos de Miranda Farias indicated during a Brazilian Electrical and Electronics Industry Association (Abinee) event that around 500 MW in solar projects could be awarded in the reserve energy auction. Recently, EPE President Mauricio Tolmasquim said that between 2014 and 2018 about 3.5 GW in solar projects could be awarded through national auctions in Brazil.

IKEA installs 1,178kW PV array atop Miami-Dade area store
By Conor Ryan - 03 June 2014, 22:20
In News, Power Generation, Project Focus

Home furnishing retailer IKEA announced Tuesday that is has successfully installed a 1,178kW PV array on top of the future Miami-Dade IKEA store in Sweetwater, Florida.

The array, which consists of 4,640 panels, is expected to generate around 1,738,876kWh of electricity annually for the sore, which would be the equivalent of reducing 1,227 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Once operational, the array will harness enough energy to power 169 homes yearly.

The plant was designed, developed and installed by REC Solar, who have constructed more than 350 PV systems throughout the US.

Selwyn Crittendon, IKEA Miami store manager, said: “Completing this solar array is an exciting milestone as we prepare to open IKEA Miami this summer. IKEA strives to create a sustainable life for communities where we operate, so we are proud this new store will generate solar power while offering our unique selection of affordable home furnishings.”

Press Release 068/2014
Enhancing Safety of Domestic Solar Power Storage
At the Intersolar, Munich, KIT Researchers Will Present Results Relating to the Safety and Service Life of Battery-based Domestic Storage Systems for Private Photovoltaics Facilities

Lithium-ion battery-based energy storage systems have already demonstrated how efficient, reliable, and safe they can be in commercial electric vehicles. These high safety standards now also have to be transferred to battery-based storage systems for private photovoltaics facilities. At the Intersolar leading trade fair in Munich that will start on June 04, 2014, KIT will present solutions for the design of safe and long-lived PV domestic storage systems.

“Lithium-ion batteries can reach a very high operational reliability, if the manufacturer possesses the necessary know-how and observes some “golden rules”,” explains Dr. Olaf Wollersheim of the Competence E project of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He and his team analyzed the transport safety and operational reliability of stationary batteries and formulated corresponding guidelines. “These guidelines may serve as a checklist to help laymen separate the wheat from the chaff.” Stationary batteries store solar power and, in this way, eliminate the production peak at noon. This power is then released again in the evening, during the night or in the morning when it is needed. Area-wide balancing of power production and power demand would be an important element for the energy turnaround.

Solar-Powered Water Wheel Contraption Cleans up Baltimore Harbor
Architecture, East, Sustainability
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Habin Kwak.
(Courtesy Baltimore Office of Sustainability)

The Water Wheel Powered Trash Inceptor, an apparatus first introduced to the city of Baltimore back in 2008, has been reinstated in Baltimore Harbor with a sleek new design. The floating machine is a sort of vacuum cleaner for the harbor, scooping up trash floating through the water. This new iteration is projected to collect an estimated 50,000 pounds of trash every day.

The wheel is powered chiefly by the water’s current but switches to solar power when the water flow is not powerful enough to turn the wheel. Clearwater Mills, the company responsible for designing the trash collector, has stated the wheel is built to withstand the weight of large, heavy debris frequently found in the harbor.

“The wheel is just the engine, and the fuel is the river current or solar power charging batteries and pumping water,” said Daniel Chase, a wheel operator for Clearwater Mills, in an interview with CBS Baltimore.


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Old Posted Jun 5, 2014, 4:35 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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Markets More: Solar
Here's When We Can Expect To See The First Road Paved With Solar Panels
Rob Wile
Jun. 5, 2014, 10:19 AM

The crowdfunding story of the year is SolarRoadways, the firm run by an Idaho couple that wants to repave America's asphalt with solar panels.

Julie and Scott Brusaw have now raised just short of $2 million on Indiegogo. With over 38,000 funders, it is the most widely sourced campaign in Indiegogo history.

So...When can we start driving on the panels?

According to Scott, we can expect the first installation next spring at a welcome center parking lot in Sandpoint, the town up the road from SolarRoadway's HQ, also known as the Brusaw residence.

"We've lined up a couple people to hire, we're looking at some resumes, places in town, getting our ducks in a row," the 56-year-old Brusaw told BI.

In the idealized case of replacing all ~31,000 square miles of paved road- and walk-ways in the lower 48 states with solar panels, Brusaw has calculated that his panel designs could meet the ~3,800 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumed by the U.S. 3x over.

Estimates Show SolarWindow Can Generate 10X More Energy
June 4, 2014 Michelle DiFrangia : 0 Comments

New Energy Technologies, developer of see-through SolarWindow coatings capable of generating electricity on glass and flexible plastics, recently released first-ever power modeling estimates of its SolarWindow prototype modules.

Engineers estimate that SolarWindow modules could conservatively produce at least ten times the electrical energy of conventional rooftop PV systems, and in some instances, exceed power performance by as much as 50-fold. SolarWindow modules could also eliminate the equivalent CO2 emissions produced by vehicles driving more than 2 million miles per year.

Recently, New Energy’s largest, high-performance SolarWindow module set a new “certified” record for generating electricity while remaining see-through; the SolarWindow prototype produced over 50% greater power than prior attempts publicized by others of comparable organic photovoltaic (OPV) prototype device architecture, size and design.

Using the independently tested and certified power production data for its SolarWindow modules from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), New Energy engineers have since developed a model for estimating the amount of electrical energy and environmental benefits SolarWindow prototype modules may provide.

By way of illustration, the company model estimates show that when installed on all four sides of a 50-story building in:
  • Phoenix, Ariz. – SolarWindow modules could generate enough electricity to power 130 homes each year.
  • Amarillo, Texas – SolarWindow modules could provide the equivalent of avoiding the CO2 emissions produced by vehicles driving over 2.2 million miles each year.
  • Miami, Fla. – SolarWindow modules could generate over 1.3 million kWh of energy.
  • Denver, Colo. – SolarWindow modules could provide the equivalent reductions in CO2 emissions produced by as much as 770 acres of forest sequestering CO2.

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Old Posted Jun 6, 2014, 5:17 PM
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Detractors Say that Solar Roadways Must Be Stopped
by Kristine Lofgren, 06/05/14

Solar Roadways have been getting a lot of attention lately after securing nearly $2 million in funding on Indiegogo – but some detractors are decrying the innovation, saying that the idea just won’t work. The inventors of Solar Roadways say the project has the potential to free the US from dirty energy, save lives with intelligent signage and make roads safer with heating. But critics say that output issues, noisy roads and a simple lack of need mean that Solar Roadways just won’t fly.

The idea behind Solar Roadways is: We already use a massive portion of land for roadways; why not double task and make our roads generate energy? But according to the magazine Renewables International, a small amount of shade on a solar panel reduces the efficiency of the entire string. Because roads will usually be shaded by cars, trees and surrounding buildings, the output will be compromised.

Jun 5, 2014
Delhi to Replicate Modi’s Rooftop Solar Model, Times Says

June 6 (Bloomberg) — India’s capital city plans to build as much as 100 megawatts of solar capacity on rooftops by replicating a model developed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state of Gujarat, the Times of India reported today.

Delhi government officials plan to copy a program set up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat state’s capital, where residents lease their rooftops to private solar utilities and get paid 3 rupees (5 cents) for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, according to the report, which cited government officials it didn’t identify. The rooftops of government hospitals and schools would also be included.

Almost all of India’s 2,800 megawatts of solar power capacity has been installed as projects mounted on the ground on open land, according to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Delhi has the potential to host as much as 2,000 megawatts of solar capacity on its rooftops, Greenpeace said in a report last year.

A Pro-Solar Protest Just Broke Out In The US
Rob Wile
Jun. 5, 2014, 5:00 PM

How big is solar getting in the U.S.?

How about, it just got its own protest against obstacles to its continued growth.

It's difficult to recall a similar campaign for oil, gas, or nuclear.

TUSK, a group backed by the solar industry, convened the demonstration Wednesday on the lawn of the Arizona Capitol to demand Gov. Jan Brewer repeal a new tax on homeowners leasing solar panels. Last month, the state's Department of Revenue ruled anyone leasing was leasing a panel faced levies of up to $152 starting this year.

The Arizona Republic's Ryan Randazzo, who's mastered coverage of the state's solar fight, was told by a Brewer rep that there's little chance this particular campaign would pay off: The governor will not override the department's authority, and a bill to throw out the taxes hasn't made it out of committee.

"Having failed to move their bill, TUSK is seeking an expedient political solution," Andrew Wilder said.

Arizona's main utility has argued solar customers are getting an unfair discount on their electricity statements. Nationwide, utilities are attempting to slow solar's rapid growth, which has up-ended their business models. Barclays just downgraded the entire electric utility sector.

The Year of Concentrating Solar Power: Five New Plants to Power America with Clean Energy
June 5, 2014 - 11:31am

Solar is increasingly providing clean, sustainable energy for our nation’s homes, businesses and industries. Clocking record-breaking growth and reaching a total of more than 4,700 megawatts of new installed capacity, 2013 was a big year for solar photovoltaic systems. But we’re also excited to watch 2014, which will mark a major milestone for a different form of solar energy: concentrating solar power (CSP).

CSP technology uses mirrors to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver from which a heat transfer fluid carries the thermal energy to a power block to generate electricity. The technology can generate energy even when the sun isn’t shining, helping to provide clean power at times of peak demand.

We recently rolled out the Energy Department’s new report, 2014: The Year of Concentrating Solar Power, which focuses on five of the most innovative CSP plants in the world. All of these projects are expected to be switched on in the southwestern United States by the end of the year as a result of sustained, long-term investments by the Department and committed solar industry partners.

These five new utility-scale CSP plants will pay major dividends. When completed, they will have the capacity to generate 1.26 gigawatts of electricity, nearly quadrupling America’s preexisting CSP capacity with the potential to power more than 350,000 average American homes.

Take a look at the five CSP plants:
  • Solana near Gila Bend, Arizona, was developed by Abengoa Solar, Inc., and opened in October 2013. The plant can dispatch energy to customers as needed during cloudy periods and after sunset. As the first power plant in the U.S. to use molten salt thermal energy storage, Solana generates electricity well into the evening to help meet the summer peak demand for air conditioning.
  • Genesis in Blythe, California, was developed by NextEra Energy Sources, LLC, and opened in April. Genesis expects to produce renewable electricity annually from more than 500,000 parabolic mirrors to power 60,000 average American homes.
  • Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, was developed by BrightSource Energy and opened in February. The system uses over 300,000 software-controlled mirrors to track the sun across the sky and reflect the sunlight onto three towers. Ivanpah has the capacity to produce 392 megawatts of power and is expected to serve nearly 100,000 average American homes.
  • Crescent Dunes in Tonopah, Nevada, is being developed by SolarReserve and is expected to open by the end of the year. When completed, approximately 10,000 heliostats will be installed, and Crescent Dunes will be the nation’s first commercial-scale solar power tower facility with energy storage.
  • Mojave Solar One near Barstow, California, is being developed by Abengoa Solar and is expected to open later this year. The plant is expected to produce 250 megawatts of power and is one of the largest projects of its kind in the world.

Improved financing and securitisation can bring further down the cost of

As photovoltaics (PV) is fast becoming a mainstream source of electricity worldwide, financing and securitisation are crucial elements for a sustainable deployment of PV and future cost reduction. The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and the SunSpec Alliance joined forces to exchange best practices in the US and the EU on financing and securitisation of PV systems during a Forum that took place today at Intersolar Europe.

Munich, 05 June 2014 - The PV market progressed remarkably in 2013, reaching a new record - level of nearly 40 GW. While EPIA foresees continued growth for PV globally in the next years, bigger focus needs to be put on financing and securitisation and their impact on future PV development.

Financing can greatly contribute to bring down the cost of PV and thus enable further PV deployment. As PV financing practices vary significantly from one region to another, the EPIA-Sunspec Alliance Forum gave participants the opportunity to exchange on best practices and experience on optimising PV financing. “Standardisation in communication interfaces, in Operation & Maintenance practices, and in PV financing, is becoming a global trend that will unlock the next phase of growth for the PV industry,” highlighted Tom Tansy, Chairman of the Sunspec Alliance. “Innovative financing standards and risk management strategies should be developed to facilitate the development of PV,” he added.

PV does not currently benefit from the same financing conditions as other energy sources and its cost is maintained artificially high. Indeed, PV is often considered a risky investment, while it is normally not thanks to its fuel independency and technical reliability. “Financing, which has become an important part of the cost of PV technology, can be significantly reduced. Framework conditions and policies should better take into account the financing environment, providing investors enough predictability and visibility and thus facilitating a larger access to financing for the PV industry globally,” concluded Oliver Schäfer, President of EPIA.

Los Angeles approves 300MW of PV
By Lucy Woods - 06 June 2014, 10:35
In News, Power Generation, Grid Connection, Project Focus

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has approved 300MW of solar development agreements.

The agreements include the 250MW Beacon project to be built in Kern County and 50MW of inner city solar projects, which will receive payments under LADWP's feed-in tariff programme. The agreements were signed on Tuesday.

The projects still require approval by the City Council, but could power up to 150,000 homes while having solar generate energy were it will be used will save transmission costs and increasing grid stability.

Board president Mel Levine said the agreements are a “win-win for the businesses and people of Los Angeles who will benefit from solar power development right in the city”.

“These solar projects will help spark economic development and jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, and meet L.A.’s renewable energy mandates” said Levine.

Los Angeles mandates include 25% renewable energy by 2016, and 33% by 2020.

Solar FlexRack Achieves Highest Labor Cost Savings
June 6, 2014 Michelle DiFrangia : 0 Comments

solarflexrackSolar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals, recently announced the results of an independent time study performed by Industrial Timestudy Institute, showing that Solar FlexRack has achieved the highest labor cost savings to date in the industry for ground mount racking systems for utility-scale PV solar installations.

“Installation efficiencies and cost savings are fueling growth in the PV solar market for mounting systems, and we can now confirm that the FlexRack Series G3L breaks the ‘penny per watt’ barrier for installation labor costs,” says Tom Meola, Solar FlexRack CEO . “When we apply Industrial Timestudy Institute’s study results to a typical 1 MW site installation, with average labor costs, the cost per watt for post, tilt bracket and rack installation with modules actually comes down to less than one cent per watt.”

Solar FlexRack reduces on-site labor costs through a high level of preassembly in its factories, moving labor from the “field” into the factory where quality and costs can be controlled more effectively. The G3L is manufactured following proprietary manufacturing processes that are certified to the latest ISO 9001 standards. The vertical and horizontal rails of the all steel FlexRack Series G3L ground mount systems ship to the job site as one completely pre-assembled unit, reducing the amount of loose hardware and components, and can be unfolded and set up in a matter of minutes.
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China Laughed When It Saw How Cheap Solar Could Be
Michael Sankowski, Monetary Realism
Jun. 6, 2014, 12:01 PM

Do you remember when Dr. Evil was going to hold the world ransom for $1,000,000?

This is what we are facing today in Solar – the Dr. Evil ultimatum. The cost to get Solar to coal parity is going to be laughably tiny.

The cost sounds like a lot of money to old people, or to people who haven’t thought it through, or to people who do not know how large world GDP is today and how much we spend on energy already.

But the cost is tiny, and China laughed when they found out the cost.


China decided back in 2000 they wanted needed to go green due to what was obviously going to be a massive environmental problem. I had friends tell me pollution was a terrible problem for China in the early 2000’s. Everyone in China knew this was a problem that had to get worse because they needed the electricity and energy.

China needed a solution to provide huge amounts of cheap electricity and not cause pollution. There are not many ways to do this. Solar was one possible path to clean and cheap energy way back in 2000, but it was very expensive then, and could not supply much capacity because there were few Solar production facilities.

So the Chinese leadership asked a question:

“How much will it cost to make Solar Cheaper than Coal?

This question has an answer. It turned out to be a dollar value China was willing to pay.

The dollar answer to this question requires knowing a few stylized facts about solar:
  1. Solar gets 20% cheaper for every doubling of worldwide installed capacity. This is called Swanson’s Law and has held for at least 40 years.
  2. The amount of installed solar is tiny today and was much smaller in the early 2000’s. This means Doubling capacity would cost very little in absolute dollar values in the early days. Even today is quite low. Testing Swanson’s law is “cheap”.
  3. Solar plants are extremely quick to develop compared to coal plants, which means the planning and possible cancellation time is very low.
  4. The market is willing to pay more for solar than it is for coal.
  5. Some increasing portion of the current year cost to test Swanson’s law will be willingly funded by the market because the market will pay more for Solar than it will for coal power.
  6. Installation capacity has a high but real upper limit to how much it can grow each year.
  7. Solar plants have almost 100% of their costs up front, so the financing is an important cost factor.
  8. Solar cells last about 30 years, which is longer than the financing term, so the last 10 years are free electricity even if Solar turns out to be a boondoggle during the time you are paying for it.
  9. Electrical energy storage costs have their own Swanson’s law.

Analysts at places like McKinsey make models based on observations like this all the time. Industries are given estimated growth rates, and end up with some level of market penetration, with some mitigating factors and limits.

Swanson’s law predicted 20% price declines for every doubling of installed capacity. Since capacity was so low in the early 2000’s, doubling total world capacity a few times would cost just a few billion dollars.

The Chinese leadership turned the model on its head, and asked how much it would cost to get them to get Solar cheaper than coal.

I can imagine the conversation between the Chinese leadership and the engineers who were asking for funding.

“We have a looming environmental problem due to wanting much more electricity.”

“What are some possible solutions?”

“Solar could one day be cheaper and solve both the cost and pollution problems.”

“How much money do you need to find out?”

“A lot, about $10 billion”

At this point the leadership fall on the floor laughing. China is a country where they build entire ghost cities with nobody in them. They build massive public transportation systems in 15 years because they can. Spending $10bn to find out if they can solve both energy and pollution was completely worth it to them.


I contend given the current levels of pollution in China, paying a modest premium for energy is completely worth it to them. If Solar ends up being the same cost as coal in just a few years, China will shift over to Solar power in an astonishing way. They will just stop building coal plants, and build an incredible amount of Solar plants instead.

Look at what China did in Shanghai. The city was entirely transformed in 20 years. China put up the equivalent of Chicago in 20 years.

Why would their response to cheap, clean energy be different? It won’t. China had a Dr. Evil moment with Solar, where it was shocked at how little it would cost to get clean energy. They tested Solar and it worked as expected. China is now laughing as they almost certainly preparing to roll out a truly huge amount of solar in the next 10 years.

This is going to drive down Solar prices far more rapidly than anyone expects. They are beginning to put together the information for the next 5 year guideline today and it looks great for Solar. The capacity China will add beginning in 2016 is likely to exceed even the highest estimates, simply because the combination of lower cost and pollution-free energy will be so compelling to China.
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Old Posted Jun 8, 2014, 8:04 PM
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^There's one line in particular from that article that is really sobering:

It will cost China about 2 years of their existing subsidies to make their energy costs cheaper than dirty coal.
Just staggering.
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Old Posted Jun 8, 2014, 9:27 PM
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Still need the storage solution. I would argue that is a more important focus of research than conventional solar. Solar direct energy supply for production of fuel for fuel cells (not using PV to supply electricity to traditional production) is an interesting area of research.
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Old Posted Jun 9, 2014, 1:33 AM
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^Yes indeed, storage is still a bit of an issue. Good thing that Musk and others are working on it.
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Solar Energy Storage System Market In Germany Approaching A Boom

The solar energy storage system market in Germany is approaching a boom period, according to many analysts, with a rapid uptick in sales likely as the technology enters wider use.

The drive behind this boom is the simple fact that such systems are extremely practical for many people/purposes — most pay themselves off in only a few years, providing yet another way for renewable energy to help cut utility costs for homeowners.

With the recent surge in solar energy in the country — and the achievement of a new record high on May 11, 2014 (15 GW) — the time certainly does seem ripe for a solar energy storage boom.

The systems don’t just benefit the consumer, though. The grid benefits as well.

“Balancing supply with demand in the grid presents operators with a significant challenge and leads to market price fluctuations. That is where storage solutions come into play,” explains Tobias Rothacher, renewable energies manager at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

“Many solar installations will have paid for themselves in the next couple of years and some will soon reach the end of their 20-year feed-in tariff contract,” Rothacher, an advisor for international companies planning to invest in Germany, continues.

“With modern and cheaper battery technology now available, these owners are able to store excess power during the day instead of feeding it into the grid at low prices and buying it back at night when it is more expensive. This helps to reduce grid fluctuations and with feed-in tariffs set to fall this summer, it makes even more economic sense.”

EuPD, a leading market research firm, currently expects sales of solar energy storage systems in Germany to rise significantly in the next few years — up to 100,000 units a year in 2018, up from the 6,000 that sold in 2013.

U.S. EPA Announces Rules on Carbon Emissions: But the Real Payoff is in Spurring Technology Development and Deployment, Not a Binding Global Climate Deal

On Monday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy revealed a “Clean Power Plan” to implement Obama administration’s proposal for reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants down 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The President had laid out the broad brushstrokes of the proposed regulations in his weekly address on Sunday. EPA’s announcement yesterday underscored that the rules are enforceable with specific targets for each state ranging from lower targets for coal-dominant states, like Kentucky at 23%, and for states with a cleaner energy mix, such as New York at 44%. The EPA rules are not prescriptive for specific technologies, but allow for flexibility by individual states in how they choose to achieve their targets. They can institute Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) like much of the Northeast, or set up carbon trading markets, including broad regional ones. Any such plan will include more renewables, both utility-scale and distributed. For some states, the targets may not be a heavy lift: For instance, analysis from the World Resources Institute indicates Minnesota can achieve a 31% reduction by continuing its existing RPS, increasing the use of combined cycle natural gas (currently operating at 11% capacity), and enforcing existing energy efficiency standards.

The EPA will enforce the new rules under section 111-d of the Clean Air Act, but is bound to face many legal challenges prior to that. However, if the U.S. Supreme Court acts on its own precedents set in Massachusetts vs EPA in 2007, the new rules will withstand the legal challenges. More serious challenges may be in the offing on the political front, particularly if a Republican takes the White House in the 2016 presidential election.

The new rules represent the most significant action taken by the U.S. government to address climate change to date, given that existing power plants account for 38% of the country’s carbon emissions, and complement the expected reductions in the transportation sector generated by the EPA’s increased fuel economy standards for automobiles, released in July 2011. This action has raised the hopes of international agencies like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) regarding a global climate deal in 2015.

These new rules, however impactful for the U.S. emissions, on their own are unlikely to have a dramatic impact on the global climate, given that almost all future growth in carbon emissions will come from developing and underdeveloped countries – most notably China, which became the largest carbon emitter in 2007. Hence much of the debate about the rules has centered on how likely they are to help induce China and other nations to agree to binding targets of their own. However, much of the discussion misses a critical point: Whatever their political importance, the rules will accelerate technology development and deployment, making it more practical and affordable for nations everywhere to reduce emissions. While their success is far from certain, their influence on innovation is where they will need to have the biggest impact for the world to achieve its CO2 reduction goals.

We predict four major technology sectors to get a boost:
  • Commercial- and utility-scale solar demand will rise in unexpected places
    Subsidized internal rates of return (IRRs) are already high for commercial and utility solar installations in states like California and Massachusetts, ranging from 10% to 15% (see Lux Solar Demand Tracker – client registration required). However, the new carbon emissions rules will likely open up hitherto unattractive markets due to the lack of significant subsidies, such as Georgia and South Carolina, where we project IRRs between 2% and 5%. As the IRRs rise in the Southeast, expect a greater flow of debt capital and competing business models, such as leasing from SolarCity and solar loans from Sungage, to make their presence felt. Provided the states comply, the new rules will also make it more difficult for utilities to raise legal objections to increasing use of renewables in the energy mix.
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New class of nanoparticle brings cheaper, lighter solar cells outdoors
Posted on June 9, 2014

TORONTO, ON — Think those flat, glassy solar panels on your neighbour’s roof are the pinnacle of solar technology? Think again.

Researchers in the University of Toronto’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have designed and tested a new class of solar-sensitive nanoparticle that outshines the current state of the art employing this new class of technology.

This new form of solid, stable light-sensitive nanoparticles, called colloidal quantum dots, could lead to cheaper and more flexible solar cells, as well as better gas sensors, infrared lasers, infrared light emitting diodes and more. The work, led by post-doctoral researcher Zhijun Ning and Professor Ted Sargent, was published this week in Nature Materials.

Collecting sunlight using these tiny colloidal quantum dots depends on two types of semiconductors: n-type, which are rich in electrons; and p-type, which are poor in electrons. The problem? When exposed to the air, n-type materials bind to oxygen atoms, give up their electrons, and turn into p-type. Ning and colleagues modelled and demonstrated a new colloidal quantum dot n-type material that does not bind oxygen when exposed to air.

Maintaining stable n- and p-type layers simultaneously not only boosts the efficiency of light absorption, it opens up a world of new optoelectronic devices that capitalize on the best properties of both light and electricity. For the average person, this means more sophisticated weather satellites, remote controllers, satellite communication, or pollution detectors.

“This is a material innovation, that’s the first part, and with this new material we can build new device structures,” said Ning. “Iodide is almost a perfect ligand for these quantum solar cells with both high efficiency and air stability—no one has shown that before.”

Ning’s new hybrid n- and p-type material achieved solar power conversion efficiency up to eight per cent—among the best results reported to date.

But improved performance is just a start for this new quantum-dot-based solar cell architecture. The powerful little dots could be mixed into inks and painted or printed onto thin, flexible surfaces, such as roofing shingles, dramatically lowering the cost and accessibility of solar power for millions of people.

News Release NR-2714
NREL Finds Up to 6-cent per Kilowatt-Hour Extra Value with Concentrated Solar Power
The greater the penetration of renewables in California, the greater the value of CSP with thermal storage capacity

June 9, 2014

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) projects would add additional value of 5 or 6 cents per kilowatt hour to utility-scale solar energy in California where 33 percent renewables will be mandated in six years, a new report by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found.

The report, “Estimating the Value of Utility-Scale Solar Technologies in California Under a 40% Renewable Portfolio StandardPDF,” finds that CSP, with its ability to store energy for several hours or more, helps maintain firm capacity in the hours when the sun is below the horizon. Compared to variable generation technologies this translates to an increase in value of 5 cents per kilowatt hour under a 33% renewable standard – the mandate for 2020 – or 6 cents per kilowatt hour under a 40% renewable standard. The added value means that at peak demands, CSP can help lower electricity bills.

“CSP adds significant additional value when compared to less flexible generation sources,” NREL CSP Group Manager Mark Mehos, co-author with Jennie Jorgenson and Paul Denholm of the study, said. “As the penetration of renewables rises, so does the relative value of CSP. CSP could also allow greater penetration of PV by making the grid more flexible and reducing curtailment of PV by generating energy after the sun sets. We intend to investigate this in more detail for the remainder of this year.”

While photovoltaic modules capture the sun’s light and turns it into useable electricity, CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. However, the thermal energy CSP generates can be held back for several hours via storage systems such as molten salts – and then used after the sun sets when demand is still high for, say, air conditioning, television, and lighting.

Rooftop solar now 2% of Australia’s total generation
By Giles Parkinson on 10 June 2014

This graph below caught our eye – showing not just the increase in installed capacity of rooftop solar PV in Australia in recent years, but also the increase in individual household system size.

This data – included in the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Systems Program annual report – is taken to the end of 2013, although recent figures show that the accumulated total is now 3.4GW on around 1.4 million homes.

A couple of key points emerge. The first is that the size of residential rooftop solar PV systems increased from 1kW in 2009 to 4kW in 2013. In just the last three years, the size of the system has more than doubled, and the total capacity has risen three-fold.

The report says that around 850MW of solar PV was installed in 2013, mainly small- scale residential systems. Despite increased restrictions on PV power exports to the grid, and low or zero rates now paid for exported power, solar PV system sizes have continued to increase.

The second major point is that rooftop solar PV now accounts for around 5% of electricity capacity and 2% of electricity generation in Australia. As we have seen, this is eating into the earnings of incumbent generators and is one of the main reasons they want support for rooftop solar to be removed.

The report notes that module prices continued to drop from $1.30 per watt in 2012 to around 75c/watt and installed prices for small residential systems dropped from an average of around $3/watt to around $2.50 watt.

“With continued increases in grid electricity prices, PV is a cost effective option for homeowners across Australia and is of increasing interest to the commercial sector.”


Solar Power in Canada: The Secrets Behind Ontario’s Solar Success
Posted on June 9 2014 by Gary Hilson

[Editor’s note: This is the second in our ongoing series of articles on solar power in Canada. The first post covered solar power in British Columbia.]

If there’s a shining beacon of hope for solar power adoption in Canada, it’s the country’s most populous province of Ontario.

The province has been at the forefront of developing policies and incentives to foster the adoption of renewable energy, particularly as an alternative to coal-burning plants, which are being phased out. However, Ontario’s solar success achieved under the provincial Liberal government may be unraveled should the Liberals be unseated by the Conservative party, which favors reinvestment in nuclear facilities, said Jose Etcheverry, co-chair at York University’s Sustainable Energy Initiative. If the Liberals retain power after the June 12 election, he expects Ontario will continue with its integrated energy supply plan, while the province will likely change course toward nuclear if the Conservatives win.

Reinvesting in nuclear does have some barriers to expansion, however, which bodes well for continued support of renewable energy in Ontario even if the Conservative party is in charge. A recent federal court ruling threw out the preliminary approvals for a series of new nuclear power reactors, including Ontario Power Generation’s 2006 plan to extend the Darlington facility with four new reactors. A panel will have to redo an assessment that the court ruling says did not examine the environmental effects of radioactive fuel waste, a Fukushima-type accident or hazardous emissions.

According to the September 2013 report “Renewable Is Doable: Affordable and Flexible Options for Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan,” co-authored by the Pembina Institute and Greenpeace, the electricity generated by new reactors is estimated to cost more than 15 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), while a portfolio of green alternatives could provide the same energy for just over 10 cents per kWh. The report noted the cost of renewable energy technologies, and especially solar power, is dropping dramatically, and this is why jurisdictions across the United States and Europe are canceling planned nuclear projects in favor of renewable alternatives. The continued rapid decline in solar costs makes it increasingly likely that residents and businesses across Ontario will look to produce power themselves.

06/09/2014 03:07 PM
Pakistan Breaks Ground On One of the World’s Largest Solar Parks
SustainableBusiness.com News

Last month, Pakistan began construction on its first major solar park, starting out with one of the largest solar PV projects in the world.

Until now, this land of sun hasn't produced even a kilowatt of solar energy.

Being built in phases, the first 100 megawatts starts generating this year and by 2016, the 400,000-panel project will produce 1 gigawatt (GW) of electricity. Then it will become even larger, eventually covering 15,000 acres and pumping out 1.5 GW.

Smaller solar projects are also being built around Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, with a road and transmission structure that make it convenient.

Islamabad-based Safe Solar Power, for example, is building a 10 MW project, and about 20 companies are planning projects from 10-50 MW, reports The Express Tribune.

To support solar development, Pakistan is also inaugurating a feed-in tariff for solar PV. Rates vary based on geography, but they are around $0.20 per kilowatt hour, reduced to $0.083 after 10 years. It is limited to PV plants between 1-100 MW.

What is now a barren, parched desert will gleam with solar panels, spurring the economy with it. "You will see a river of panels, residential buildings and offices - it will be a new world," site engineer Muhammad Sajid told The Express Tribune.

Buffett Ready to Double $15 Billion Solar, Wind Bet
By Noah Buhayar and Jim Polson
Jun 9, 2014 9:00 PM PT

Warren Buffett briefly lost track of how many billions of dollars his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) is spending to build wind and solar power in the U.S. That didn’t stop him from vowing to double the outlay.

Describing the company’s increasing investment in renewable energy at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas yesterday, Buffett had to rely on a deputy, Greg Abel, to remind him just how much they’d committed: $15 billion.

Without missing a beat, Buffett responded: “There’s another $15 billion ready to go, as far as I’m concerned.”

Such bold remarks are common for the Berkshire chairman and chief executive officer. He frequently talks about hunting for “elephant”-size acquisitions and making multibillion-dollar stock purchases.

Still, the comment speaks to the kinds of investments that are increasingly appealing to the billionaire now that his Omaha, Nebraska-based company is the fifth-largest in the world by market value. With dozens of units spinning off cash, Buffett has been allocating funds to regulated, capital-intensive businesses such as railroad BNSF and power companies.

“Buffett has always steered Berkshire toward the future,” said Lawrence Cunningham, a professor at George Washington University and author of the forthcoming book “Berkshire Beyond Buffett.” “Lately, that has meant intensifying the company’s focus on rudimentary, long-lasting businesses.”

‘Keep Moving’

While utilities don’t offer the returns of businesses that Buffett, 83, favored earlier in his career, he has said he likes the industry because it provides opportunities for reinvestment and further acquisitions. He bought control of an energy holding company in Iowa in 2000 and helped bankroll its expansion.

The unit, now called Berkshire Hathaway Energy, operates electric grids in the U.K., natural gas pipelines that stretch from the Great Lakes to Texas and electric utilities in states including Oregon and Nevada. Its renewable investments include wind farms in Iowa and Wyoming, as well as solar farms in California and Arizona.

Unlike other utility-holding companies, Berkshire Hathaway Energy retains all of its earnings. That probably will continue, Buffett said yesterday, estimating that the unit could reinvest about $30 billion into its business in the next decade.

“We’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see,” he said. “We’ll just keep moving.”

Boosting Solar Cell Efficiency
U Engineers Design New Optical Element to Sort Sunlight

June 10, 2014 – University of Utah electrical engineers have designed a thin layer made of a transparent plastic or glass that sorts and concentrates sunlight to boost the overall efficiency of solar cells by up to 50 percent. This layer, called a polychromat, can be integrated into the cover glass of a solar panel. It could also be used to boost power efficiency in a cellphone or improve low light conditions for a camera.

“Currently, high-efficiency solar cells are very expensive because they have to be carefully manufactured in a complex environment and are only cost-effective for space or defense applications like the Mars Rover,” says Rajesh Menon, a Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U. “We have designed a very cheap optical element that can be incorporated into the cover glass of a solar panel that will separate sunlight into various colors.”

Solar cells absorb light from the sun and convert it into electricity. Despite its tremendous potential as a limitless resource of energy, solar power is currently a small fraction of the global energy supply, due to its high cost compared with conventional power sources. In addition, challenges in materials have further limited solar power’s wide reach.

Solar cell performance is directly linked to the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity. Solar cells operate on the concept that one absorbed bundle of light from the sun, called a photon, generates electrical charge carriers in a layer of material within the solar cell that then becomes electricity.

However, sunlight is made up of different wavelengths of light, ranging from ultraviolet to visible to infrared. Light at different wavelengths is made of photons at different energies. Conventional solar cells only absorb a narrow range of wavelengths very efficiently. The energy at other wavelengths is not absorbed at all or is converted into waste heat rather than electricity. As a result, a solar cell can only convert so many photons into electricity, up to a theoretical limit of about 33.5 percent efficiency (called the Shockley-Queissner limit).

In this new study, Menon and electrical engineering graduate student Peng Wang designed a polychromat. The polychromat was 50 millimeters wide by 10 millimeters long, with 3 micrometer wide grooves to sort incoming light. The polychromat was made using photolithography for this study, but Menon says it can now be made cheaply by creating a mold of the polychromat and then stamping it out like a DVD.

The team placed the polychromat on top of a photovoltaic device, which is a device that generates a voltage when exposed to energy, especially light. The photovoltaic device is made of two absorber layers: gallium indium phosphide to absorb visible light, and gallium arsenide to absorb infrared light. When the University of Utah polychromat was added, the power efficiency increased by 16 percent.

“These colors can be absorbed by appropriate solar cells to increase the efficiency of the overall process without increasing the cost,” says Menon.

The researchers also developed computer simulations of a polychromat placed on a solar cell with eight different absorber layers to show a theoretical efficiency greater than 50 percent.

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Energy News
Exotic, Highly-Efficient Solar Cells May Soon Get Cheaper
A new way to make the most efficient and powerful types of solar cells could help solar power compete with fossil fuels.

By Kevin Bullis on June 9, 2014

The world’s most efficient solar cells are twice as efficient as the ones people put on their roofs, but hardly anyone uses them because the semiconductor materials they’re made of are so expensive. That could be about to change.

Ali Javey, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, has found a far cheaper way to manufacture these better-performing semiconductors. This advance could lower the cost of high-efficiency solar cells, potentially making them as cheap as conventional ones. Javey says the new process could be a “game changer” for solar cells.

Improving the efficiency of affordable solar cells will be essential for making solar power competitive with fossil fuels. Fewer cells would be needed, reducing costs for materials and installation, a large share of the total cost of solar power. Early tests suggest solar cells made from the materials would have an efficiency of about 25 percent, which is far better than conventional silicon solar cells, which are less than 18 percent efficient. And a preliminary analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests Javey’s cells could be made as cheaply as conventional ones.

The most efficient solar cells available today are made from materials called III-V semiconductors, a group that includes gallium arsenide and indium phosphide. Making solar cells from these materials normally means starting with expensive crystals of the semiconductor material, then exposing the crystals to vapors that produce the thin films need for a solar cell.

Mississippi utility proposes three solar plants
By Lucy Woods - 11 June 2014, 12:59
In News, Power Generation

Entergy Mississippi, electricity provider to more than 400,000 across 45 counties, has filed a plan for grid upgrades including three solar projects.

The plan has been submitted to the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) includes three 500kW solar plants, providing customers the choice of green energy and incentives for businesses, or making permanent a two-year rate discount for small businesses.

The proposed plans outline Entergy’s ideas for future grid improvements for reliability and stabilising upgrades to utilise new technologies, while maintaining MPSC’s workforce and preparing for the future.

The plan is for electric demand through to 2025 and is the first time Entergy has filed such a plan in almost 12 years; the plan would also seek to improve transmission and distribution and create new regulations to attract industrial sites – creating new jobs and spurring economic development, according to Entergy.

"Under this plan, we'll spend the next decade focusing on low rates, more jobs, more choice and smart investments," said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO.

UK surpasses 3 GW mark in April
11. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Edgar Meza

Fueled by the rapid growth in ground-mounted solar PV farms, Europe’s most dynamic solar market is poised to add the most solar capacity in Europe this year.

The United Kingdom has surpassed the 3 GW mark in installed photovoltaic capacity, a figure it is expected to double this year.

The country reached 3,179 MW of solar across 551,939 installations at the end of April, according to recent statistics published by the U.K. Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). The figure represents an increase (for both capacity and installations) of 1% from the end of March.

By the end of the year, however, the U.K. is expected to overtake Spain and France to become the third largest solar market in Europe with some 6.3 GW, behind Germany (currently at 35.7 GW) and Italy (17.2 MW).

US Solar Boom Continues, Developing World Going Solar Even Faster
Posted on June 11 2014 by Scott Thill

Here’s the good news: Paris-based Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) has released its influential annual Renewables Global Status Report (PDF), and it’s mostly positive for the solar sector. The bad news? The overall globe that REN21 happens to be analyzing just can’t seem to get its renewables house in order.

In 2013, policy uncertainty in the United States and parts of Europe helped bring down global investment in solar photovoltaics 22 percent in dollar terms, the report explains. China beat the United States and Brazil beat Canada in total installed renewable power capacity. In fact, China’s renewable power capacity surpassed new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity for the first time, while Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Austria respectively led the world in per capita renewable power capacity. Suddenly, America’s solar war with China doesn’t look so cut and dried.

Judging its underwhelming 2013 performance from a global perspective, North America looks like it still has quite a long way to go, despite its solar successes and its ongoing solar boom.

Two West Midlands hospitals install solar to combat escalating energy bills
By Peter Bennett | 11 June 2014, 8:14 Updated: 11 June 2014, 9:54

The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) has partnered with renewable energy installer, Ecolution, to install solar PV arrays at Solihull Hospital and Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.

Both hospitals are benefiting from the electricity generated from their two 250kWp roof-mounted arrays. HEFT identified solar as a means of saving energy, cutting costs and reducing the hospitals’ carbon footprints.

Initially, HEFT requested over 250kWp for each of the hospitals roof but due to the nature of the feed-in tariff degression bands this would have resulted in a drop in FiT levels of 35% so HEFT elected to cap the installs at 250kWp.

Ecolution chose black-framed Hyundai 250W modules, using over 2,000 panels across 28 roofs – all with varying pitch, orientation, height and covering. The installations were completed in les than six months, in time for the hospitals deadline of March 2014.

The arrays are predicted to deliver over £2 million in associated savings and feed-in tariff payments over the next 20 years.

Pete Sellars, director of estates for the NHS, said that he was delighted that the £3 million project did not result in the closure of any wards or disruption to critical services.

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Kenya shelves tax on solar power
SolarAid drops price of solar lamps by 16 per cent following move by MPs to cut cost of renewable energy products

By Jessica Shankleman
12 Jun 2014

Solar power companies have welcomed a move by the Kenyan government to scrap VAT on their products, delivering a significant cost reduction on increasingly popular solar lights and phone chargers.

Last autumn, the Kenyan government introduced VAT of 16 per cent on all solar products. But the move prompted complaints from the UK-based charity SolarAid, which warned that the levy would make its solar products inaccessible to poorer families.

Working with the World Bank-backed initiative Lighting Africa and the Kenya Renewable Energy Association, SolarAid has been lobbying the government to drop the tax, claiming that it hampers international efforts to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020.

Kerosene lamps are widely blamed for potentially harmful air pollution and carbon emissions, and impose high running costs on families and businesses when compared with solar lamps.

Southern Research Institute completes solar research center
12. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Applications & Installations, Research & Development | By: Ian Clover

The new facility, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is intended to provide key insights into the optimal design of solar PV systems.

Not-for-profit scientific research organization Southern Research Institute has completed the construction of its solar research center in the U.S. city of Birmingham, Alabama.

The Southeastern Solar Research Center (SSRC) has been designed to focus on the study of solar PV systems and will host a range of research programs and initiatives, the first of which – an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) – focuses on solar PV orientation, tracking and aging.

Michael D. Johns, VP of engineering at Southern Research Institute, remarked that the new facility will accelerate the institute's research into solar photovoltaics, providing unique data intended to aid utilities in the optimal design of solar PV systems.


The center itself is considered completely state-of-the-art and boasts a testing area comprising multiple configurations of PV solar panel arrays, microinverters and an advanced energy-monitoring system. The center also has trackers that follow the sun throughout the day, and south-facing solar PV systems designed to accurately evaluate how the afternoon sun – a time of day when electricity use is generally higher – can be better utilized.

Kyocera plans 430 MW Japan PV plant as country's solar shipments soar
12. June 2014 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Ian Clover

While Kyocera explores the possibility of constructing a mega solar plant on the island of Ukujima, the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association reveals 100% rise in solar shipments.

Japanese tech giant Kyocera has announced plans to develop a 430 MW solar PV project on the southern Japanese island of Ukujima in collaboration with four key partners.

Photovolt Development Partners GmbH, Kyudenko Corp., Orix Corp. and Mizuho Bank Ltd. have each reached a basic feasibility agreement for the project which, if approved, would be the largest solar PV project in the world to be built on agricultural land.

The news comes on the same day that the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) announced that Japan more than doubled its solar shipments over the last fiscal year – a show of strength that justifies the hype currently surrounding the Japanese PV market.

Mega solar project

Initial planning of the proposed 430 MW solar PV project on Ukujima was begun by Photovolt Development Partners in April 2013, in part with one eye on the economic revitalization of the island, which is relatively remote and impoverished. Initial investment for the plant is estimated at 150 billion yen (US$1.47 billion), with construction penciled in to commence in the first quarter of 2016.

Solar Energy Increasingly Considered a Safe, Attractive Investment
Stefan Nicola and Marc Roca, Bloomberg
June 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

BERLIN -- Pension fund managers are investing more in solar energy, undeterred by declining returns because the industry is considered a safe alternative to traditional securities such as government bonds.

That’s the conclusion of executives from two of the biggest Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which have listed their shares in New York. Trina Solar Ltd. said it’s seeing more interest from fund managers, and Wuxi Suntech Power Co Ltd. said these managers accept returns as low as 1.7 percent.

Pension funds are “prepared to invest more in PV, as they have done with wind, because they see it as a sustainable and reliable income,” Benjamin Hill, president of Trina’s unit in Europe, said in an interview.

The comments are evidence that fund managers are getting comfortable with solar projects, tapping stable returns as central banks keep their benchmark lending rates near historic low levels.

The European Central Bank earlier this month cut the main refinancing rate to a record 0.15 percent and moved the deposit rate below zero for the first time, meaning banks will be charged to park cash with the central bank.

Bond Alternative

‘Mature Technology’
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Indian State Of Karnataka Plans To Add 2,000 MW Of Solar Power By 2022

The Southern Indian state of Karnataka seems to be on the cusp of a solar revolution of its own. The Karnataka government has auctioned off 200 MW of solar power capacity in two years, a task it has planned to complete in five years. The government has now updated its solar power policy, putting in place long-term and highly ambitious capacity addition targets.

The government has announced that it would install an additional 2,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2022.. This would be in addition to the potential 100s of megawatts of capacity coming from private project developers. Under the policy, the government would auction 1,600 MW capacity for utility-scale projects.

Some of these projects would be set up on farming land. The government has indicated in its policy document that while the projects may be built and operated by the project developers, the land may be leased to them instead of being sold by the farmers. If such an approach is adopted, it would be a significant step, as land acquisition has been a contentious issue in India. This approach would potentially reduce project cost and implementation time while providing a regular source of income to the farmers throughout the plant life.

About 400 MW capacity would be added in the form of rooftop grid-connected projects. The government plans to implement a net metering policy to complement this program and provide financial incentives to households and commercials buildings.

China gives tax boost to distributed PV power generation
13. June 2014 | Applications & Installations, Industry & Suppliers, Global PV markets, Top News | By: Ian Clover

Government taxation authorities announce that buyers of distributed PV power should invoice power generators in an effort to ease tax burdens.

Chinese tax authorities will in July introduce measures designed to ease the tax burden on distributed PV power generation.

The government is seeking ways to promote distributed PV power generation projects, and from July 1 will ask all buyers of distributed PV power – which are mainly companies owned by the State Grid Corporation of China – to invoice power generators.

This simplified purchase procedure lessens the tax burden on all parties, making power transactions easier and, in most cases, less expensive. The decision by the State Administration of Taxation is intended to boost the installation of distributed PV power projects by stripping away the often-arcane taxation laws that have been known to cripple development in the sector.

California bill could ease ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ of PV soft costs
By Andy Colthorpe - 13 June 2014, 11:11
In News, Power Generation, BOS

US residential solar company Sunrun has welcomed a piece of legislation in California that could help drive down soft costs, by streamlining the permitting and inspection process for new PV systems.

Walker Wright, director of public policy at Sunrun, spoke to PV Tech via telephone about AB2188, a bill which is currently going through the state assembly. AB2188 would mean that anyone applying to install a residential solar PV system of up to 10kW would be able to gain permitting and a mandatory inspection within days of applying.

Wright said that in his opinion, the inconsistency that exists at present means that in some cities, permitting and inspection is a very straightforward and expedient process, while in others the indeterminate nature of the timeframe involved can make handling the matter a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

Wright said that while in some cities in California the process of getting a system approved and inspected was very easy and quick, “…in the next town over, that process could be a bureaucratic nightmare, where you don’t hear back from the permitting office, you wonder if your application is fallen into a black hole somewhere", he told PV Tech.

"There’s no accountability on behalf of the office to tell you when they’ll get it back to you. And the same sort of bureaucratic process will repeat itself with the actual inspection of the system. Whether its two days or six months from now on a Tuesday, you don’t know. What the rooftop solar industry is asking for is more consistency across municipal boundaries.”

Solar’s time to rise and shine
By Ben Jervey on 13 June 2014

Last month, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., loaded a postage stamp–sized solar cell onto a tray and placed it under a high-intensity pulse solar simulator. The simulator flashed a 2.5 millisecond pulse of light, and 19 mirrors reflected the photons down onto the cell. For a few more milliseconds, data funneled through a looping nest of wires into NREL computers. Researchers crunched and corrected the numbers, and device performance supervisor Keith Emery verified them: A new world record for solar photovoltaic efficiency had been set.

In the high stakes, highly technical world of photovoltaics, score is kept as the percent of the raw solar energy hitting a cell that is converted to electricity. Because his lab is the only one in the U.S. certified by the International Electrotechnical Commission for testing the efficiencies of solar cells, Emery is the nation’s unofficial solar scorekeeper.

We’re in a Renaissance period of photovoltaic research, in which constant innovation is driving up efficiencies across all types of solar cells — from the most conventional crystalline silicon, to thin-film cadmium telluride, to much-buzzed-about new discoveries such as perovskite cells. World records are being broken at a breakneck rate, and the researchers behind this latest record-setter know better than to celebrate for too long.

Solar Installer To Use Drones For Rooftop Inspections
in News Departments > Products & Technology
by SI Staff on Thursday 12 June 2014

Las Vegas-based solar installer Sol-Up USA says it will now use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to assess roof spaces to aid in the drafting and designing process.

Sol-Up says a UAS can revolutionize photovoltaic system design by allowing for more optimized and precise calculations and measurements. The company will be using the DJI Phantom II.

The engineering and design process for solar PV systems often relies on satellite images. Newly constructed homes do not appear on satellite images until many months later - hence the need for aerial views in these situations, Sol-Up says.
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CBD Energy Plans Eastern U.S. Solar Expansion After Share Sale
By Justin Doom Jun 13, 2014 8:45 AM PT

CBD Energy Ltd., a Sydney-based renewable-energy developer, plans to expand along the U.S. East Coast after completing the purchase of a solar company in North Carolina and selling shares in the U.S.

CBD Energy sold 1.8 million shares for $4 each. They began trading today on the Nasdaq Capital Market and no longer trade over the counter. The company will receive about $6 million in net proceeds, according to a statement.

CBD is no longer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Chairman Gerry McGowan said in a telephone interview. Moving to a U.S. exchange will help the company raise capital.

“We’ve seen the U.S. understands renewables very well, and it’s been well received in the financial community,” he said in an interview. “The Australian market is really a mining exchange -- it doesn’t have the cleantech market -- which is why we delisted from there.”

CBD Energy licensed technology from Westinghouse Solar Inc. that it will sell to homeowners in the U.S., where about 1 percent of homes have rooftop systems, compared with 15 percent in Australia, McGowan said. He plans to start in Massachusetts and expand along the East Coast from there.

“When you’re seeing solar able to compete with fossil-fuel generation, people see that there’s a market for it,” he said.

Regulation, Solar
Barclays Just Threw Gasoline on the Fire that is the Battle Between Utilities and the Solar Industry
By Elias Hinckley on June 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Last week Barclays downgraded the high-grade bond market for the entire electric utility sector because “we believe that a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and residential-scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo.” While this is not the first statement about vulnerability of electric utilities to competition from new technology it is the most important to date.

Electric Utilities vs. Solar

Barclays Sees Technology Winning – Soon

Downgrading Utility Bonds is Really Really Big Deal

What Happens Next?

Jun 13, 2014
Tenaska Closes $450 Million for Photovoltaic Plant in California

June 13 (Bloomberg) — Tenaska Inc., a closely held energy developer, closed $450 million in financing to build its second utility-scale solar plant in California’s Imperial Valley.

The 150-megawatt Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West project will be built near El Centro, the Omaha, Nebraska-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. First Solar Inc. expects to begin construction this year, with completion scheduled for 2016.

The company’s other California solar plant, the 130-megawatt Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, began generating electricity in November.

Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has agreed to buy power from both solar plants under 25-year contracts, according to the statement.

dr evil style... sharks... with FRIKKIN LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS!!

Solar “Freakin’” Roadways Reveals How the Solar Industry Has Failed to Inspire America
Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza, UnThink Solar
June 13, 2014 | 6 Comments

Ladies and gentlemen, the solar industry has failed to communicate, and there’s no better example of how we’ve failed than the “Solar Freakin Roadways” crowd-funding project that’s raised over $2 million for a solar technology that will never become as utilized or as inexpensive as our good ol’ conventional solar PV panels.

I say this not to disparage or condemn the Solar Roadways creators. Clearly, they’re passionate about their invention and their ideal applications, but the reality is that they’ve thus far omitted real $/watt data for production, installation, O&M, or really anything cost related. Instead, they’ve created a fun little video with a satirical “voice” that has been viewed OVER 16 MILLION TIMES on YouTube.

Video Link

06/13/2014 05:36 PM
Really Small Solar Gaining Traction Around the World
SustainableBusiness.com News

Although the solar industry's phenomenal growth is largely around systems that power homes and businesses, there's a subsector that's also gaining traction, called "pico" solar.

Call it really small-scale solar - at 100 watts or less - used to charge cell phones, power lights and small direct current (DC) appliances. Although, we mostly hear about these systems used in the developing world to provide light, it is increasingly used in industrialized countries to run emergency backup and disaster preparedness equipment, Recreational Vehicles (RVs), boats and even electric fences, in addition to lighting for off-grid homes and communities, says Navigant Research.

Worldwide, they expect pico solar products to grow from sales of 8.2 million this year to 64.3 million in 2024, with revenues of $550.5 million to $2.4 billion, respectively.

"Solar PV consumer products are rapidly moving from specialized niches for enthusiasts and early adopters into the mainstream," says Dexter Gauntlett, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. "The market for off-grid solar lighting, in particular, has reached a point where there is considerable opportunity around the world and multiple entry points for manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and others."
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13 June 2014 Last updated at 19:24 ET
Vanadium: The metal that may soon be powering your neighbourhood
By Laurence Knight BBC World Service

Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you've probably never heard of - vanadium.

Hawaii's problem is too much sunshine - or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

Generating electricity in the remote US state has always been painful. With no fossil fuel deposits of its own, it has to get oil and coal shipped half-way across the Pacific.

That makes electricity in Hawaii very, very expensive - more than three times the US average - and it is the reason why 10% and counting of the islands' residents have decided to stick solar panels on their roof.

The problem is that all this new sun-powered electricity is coming at the wrong place and at the wrong time of day.

Hawaii's electricity monopoly, Heco, fears parts of the grid could become dangerously swamped by a glut of mid-day power, and so last year it began refusing to hook up the newly-purchased panels of residents in some areas.

And it isn't just Hawaii.

"California's got a major problem," says Bill Radvak, the Canadian head of American Vanadium, America's only vanadium mining company.

"The amount of solar that's coming on-stream is just truly remarkable, but it all hits the system between noon and 4pm."

That does not marry well with peak demand for electricity, which generally comes in the late afternoon and evening, when everyone travels home, turns on the lights, heating or air conditioning, boils the kettle, bungs dinner in the microwave, and so on.

What the Golden State needs is some way of storing the energy for a few hours every afternoon until it is needed.

How does a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery work?

Consists of two giant tanks of different solutions of vanadium dissolved in sulphuric acid, separated by a membrane
  • The battery produces an electrical current as the fluids are pumped past electrodes on either side of the battery
  • In one tank, the vanadium releases electrons, turning from yellow to blue
  • In the other tank, the vanadium receives electrons, turning from green to violet
  • The electrons pass around a circuit, generating a current, while at the same time a matching number of protons (hydrogen ions) pass across the membrane between the two solutions

That challenge of balancing electricity supply and demand is set to get a whole lot more difficult as ever more solar and wind energy is added to the grid.
Solar panel emergency call box in Hawaii

Which brings us back to Hawaii.

Rooftop solar panels don't just produce electricity at the "wrong" time of day, they also produce it at a low voltage, which, according to the German renewable energy entrepreneur Alexander Voigt, means it is effectively trapped at the level of the local community.

"Our traditional electricity grid is built in a way that the energy flows from the high voltage to the low voltage, and not the other way round," he says.

That means the solar energy can only be shared among the few households - typically just a village or a town neighbourhood - that happen to share the same transformer station that plugs them into the high-voltage national grid.

Solar turns tables on Australia’s electricity markets
By Giles Parkinson on 16 June 2014

Australia’s electricity markets are forecast to experience more declines in consumption over the next three years, as homes and businesses conserve energy, use smarter appliances and turn increasingly to generating their own electricity.

The 2014 National Electricity Forecasting Report issued on Monday by the Australian Energy Market Operator has highlighted once again how all previous assumptions about electricity demand have been turned on their head in recent years.

As we reported on Friday, AEMO has been forced to revise down its forecast demand for 2013/14 for a second time, and it now expects demand from the National Electricity Market to continue falling for at least another three years.

AEMO notes that in the past five years, instead of surging demand, consumption from the grid has actually fallen by an average of 1.8 per cent a year from 2009–10 to 2013–14.

Ironically, this has been driven, it says, by surging network costs – which have risen in turn because of the $45 billion that was invested on the basis of high demand forecasts five years ago.

These rising costs, in turn, have encouraged consumers to conserve energy, turn to more energy efficient appliances, and look to rooftop solar to deflect their costs. Demand has also been reduced by declining industrial production.

The fall in demand, or at least the fall in demand from the grid (because many houses with solar PV are still consuming, just producting much of their own needs), is being used by incumbent generators and others with vested interests as an excuse to halt, or slow down, the pace of deployment of renewable energy in Australia.

Many fear their complaints are getting a favourable reception from a review panel led by a climate skeptic, and a government which has described wind farms as “offensive” and renewable energy as having “no place” in modern society.

However the AEMO figures are used for the promotion of commercial interests, they do reflect a fundamental change in the way electricity markets operate, and the way in which electricity will be generated and delivered in the future.

AEMO says the only increase in consumption is coming from the massive LNG projects in Queensland. The state owned generators have hailed the prospect of being able to burn more fossil fuels to allow more fossil fuels to be liquefied and exported.

Elsewhere, there is no need for any additional generation, AEMO says, in any state before the end of its forecast period, 2023/24. The incumbent generators argue that this means there is no justification to force renewables into the market. Those on the other side say it’s about time the oldest and polluting generators exited the market.
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Storage Is the New Solar: Will Batteries and PV Create an Unstoppable Hybrid Force?
Once a dominant force in solar, batteries were pushed aside in favor of grid-tied systems. But that dynamic may be changing.

by Stephen Lacey

When Wes Kennedy started engineering solar systems in the mid-1990s, he pretty much had one integration option: batteries.

At that time, Kennedy designed and installed systems for Jade Mountain, a Colorado-based distributed energy retailer that eventually merged with Real Goods Solar. With very little policy support from utilities, the off-grid market was the dominant driver of business in the U.S. and globally. The vast majority of PV was paired with lead-acid batteries and sold to people who wanted to disconnect from the grid, or who had no other choice for electricity.

That’s the way it was from the 1970s onward for a couple of decades, until a steady march of state-level policies and interconnection laws made tying solar into the grid more attractive. In typical first-mover fashion, California offered some of the first U.S. incentives for solar systems connected to utility wires in 1996. A handful of other states followed, extending net metering to solar and creating state rebate programs.

At that time, Germany and Japan also beefed up promotion laws, creating a strong burst of activity for the grid-tied market globally. In 1997, nearly two-thirds of worldwide solar deployment was off-grid. Three years later, grid-tied installations outpaced off-grid installations globally for the first time. In 2005, the market finally flipped for the U.S. as state promotion policies blossomed.

Over the last decade and a half, battery storage went from being the core enabler of solar PV to a marginal technology. Battery-based systems now only represent around 1 percent of yearly solar installations in America and throughout the world.

“Sometimes people forget that storage was the roots of the solar industry,” said Kennedy.

Russia steps up solar expansion in the south
16. June 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Panorama | By: Linas Jegelevicius

The sunlit southern regions of Bashkiria and Krasnodar are seeking to boost solar power output with a number of projects in development. Krasnodar is investing $870 million in green energy through 2020.

The regions of Bashkiria and Krasnodar in southern Russia are set to ramp up their solar capacities this year, fulfilling some foreign sustainable energy experts' forecasts on "unprecedented PV capacity growth" in Russia this year.

The Republic of Bashkiria (also known as Bashkortostan) has set its sights on launching two solar plants with a combined capacity of 15 MW by the end of the year and expects to add another 24 MW from three new PV facilities in 2016, reaching a total of 39 MW of PV expansion by the end of 2016.

In its pursuit, the Bashkiria government has signed an agreement with Avelar Solar Technology, a spinoff of state energy company Renova, and Xevel, a company founded in 2009 to develop solar energy in Russia. If all goes well, the first two plants should pop up in the republic’s Xaibulinsk and Kujurgazinsk districts this year while the three solar units slated for 2016 are to be built in the Isiangulovsk, Bugulcansk and Buribaevsk districts.

An additional 50 to 90 MW could come from a further five PV installations during 2015-2020, thereby reaching a total capacity of more than 100 MW.
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Elon Musk and SolarCity Executives Plan For World’s Largest Solar Panel Plant
By EcoWatch Editor's Pick, Featured, Green Building June 23, 2014

Elon Musk’s alternate-energy aspirations don’t end with Tesla’s electric vehicles.

Musk is also chairman of SolarCity, a firm responsible for three times the solar panel installations as its closest competitor. Along with executives Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive, Musk announced this week that the company will create a solar plant that would be the equivalent ofTesla’s “gigafactory” plan announced earlier this year.

“We are in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team. At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world,” the trio wrote in a company blog post.

22 June 2014
Study shows greater potential for solar power
Concentrating solar power (CSP) could supply a large fraction of the power supply in a decarbonized energy system, shows a new study of the technology and its potential practical application.

Concentrating solar power (CSP) could supply a substantial amount of current energy demand, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. In the Mediterranean region, for example, the study shows that a connected CSP system could provide 70-80% of current electricity demand, at no extra cost compared to gas-fired power plants. That percentage is similar to what a standard energy production plant, such as a nuclear plant, can provide.

“Solar energy systems can satisfy much more of our hunger for electricity, at not much more cost than what we currently have,” says Stefan Pfenninger, who led the study while working at IIASA. He is now a Research Postgraduate at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

The study was the first to examine the potential of CSP as a large-scale energy production system, in four regions around the world.

“In order to address climate change we need to greatly expand our use of renewable energy systems,” says IIASA researcher Fabian Wagner, who also worked on the study. “The key question, though, is how much energy renewable systems can actually deliver.”

One problem with deploying solar energy on a large scale is that the sun doesn’t shine all the time. That means that energy must be stored in some way. For photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, this is especially difficult to overcome, because electricity is difficult to store.

Solar at Grid Parity in Utah, A Coal State With No Renewable Standard
Utahns could soon be paying less for solar than for coal.

Eric Wesoff
June 23, 2014

The Utah solar experiment is officially underway as the state races from near-zero solar to potentially bringing hundreds of megawatts of solar on-line.

The Beehive State has great solar and land resources. However, the state does not yet have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and burns cheap coal for the majority of its power. Utah's average residential electricity price was 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in March of this year, according to EIA.

Despite low electricity costs, regional utility Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) is signing several twenty-year solar power-purchase agreements with renewables developer First Wind. The largest proposed project in this recent wave of solar PPAs is First Wind's 320-megawatt “Four Brothers” solar plant in Utah's Beaver and Iron Counties, consisting of four separate 80-megawatt solar power sites.

RMP (part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy's PacifiCorp) also signed PPAs with First Wind’s 20-megawatt “Seven Sisters” solar projects earlier this month. Under the requirements set forth in the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, the utility must purchase power from an independent power producer if the price is less than the avoided cost of generating the power itself.

The single-axis-tracker Pavant solar project in Millard County, Utah, developed by juwi Solar, is coming in at a PPA price of $55 per megawatt, as per a public mention from the developer at a recent Energy Development Summit sponsored by Utah's Governor Gary Herbert. (That figure is the proposed PPA price; power has not yet been delivered.)

Regarding these recent solar PPAs with developers such as First Wind, juwi, SunEdison and Scatec, Sarah Wright of Utah Clean Energy said, "It's a huge deal for ratepayers" with prices locked in for twenty years on "summertime, daytime energy."

Solar still leads US charge
23. June 2014 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Investor news, Markets & Trends, Top News | By: Max Hall

The latest figures show solar - with 907 MW - was the biggest renewable energy contributor to new electricity generation capacity in the US in the first five months of this year. Five solar projects added 156 MW in May.

Five new solar installations provided 156 MW of new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. in May as renewables supplied 88% of the nation's new capacity during the month, according to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, released today.

The Energy Infrastructure Update issued by the commission's Office of Energy Projects said solar was the second biggest contributor among renewables generation projects in May – and the biggest in the first five months of 2014 – as two new wind farms added 203 MW of U.S generation capacity during the month.

A State-By-State Look at Fossil Fuels’ Uphill Fight Against Home Solar
Posted on June 23 2014 by Scott Thill


Press Release 067/2014
Safe Water for the People in Tanzania
Mobile Solar Filter System Removes Microorganisms and Pollutants

Hydraulic engineer Andrea Schäfer and photovoltaics expert Bryce Richards have developed a solar filtration system to produce high-quality drinking water from polluted brackish water and tested it successfully in Tanzania. The test results are currently being analyzed at the KIT. The filter effectively separates undesired substances, bacteria, and viruses. Fluoride concentration that often is extremely high in Tanzania is reduced below the limit given by the World Health Organization (WHO). The system combines two membrane techniques for the separation of smallest particles and dissolved contaminants. As it is robust and autonomously mobile, it is suited well for water supply in poor and rural areas.

Outside of the rainy season, the area of Mdori which is located in the north of Tanzania in the region of Manyara is extremely hot and dry. Water is scarce, the lake located nearby has an extremely high salt concentration. A well drilled to extract water from a natural spring supplies water with a high salt concentration and 60 µg of fluoride per liter – 40 times the concentration limit given by the WHO –. This water is not potable. At this spring, Professor Andrea Schäfer and Professor Bryce Richards, who are now working at the KIT, tested their water filtration system ROSI (Reverse Osmosis Solar Installation). The system can be operated with solar and/or wind power. It combines ultrafiltration membranes of about 50 nm in pore size to retain macromolecular substances, particles, bacteria, and viruses with membranes for nanofiltration and reverse osmosis with pore sizes below 1 nm to remove dissolved molecules from the water. Andrea Schäfer and Bryce Richards conceived ROSI in Australia and developed it further in Scotland before they started to plan their field tests at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania. In February and March this year, they tested the system at places like Mdori. Presently, Schäfer and Richards are evaluating the test results at the KIT. In the next phase, the systems will be installed at the locations selected.

As the system is run directly by solar power without batteries, the behavior of the filter changes as a function of the light conditions: Under full solar irradiation, the filtration system reduces the fluoride concentration of the water below the WHO limit of 1.5 mg/l. As a result of the change between day and night and strong temporary cloud formation in the region of Mdori, however, energy supply varies considerably. It is interrupted, if solar irradiation is insufficient. Influence of such fluctuations on water quality was one of the aspects covered by the tests of the researchers. “If less power is available, pressure decreases. As a result, less water passes the membranes. The fluoride concentration increases for a short term,” Professor Andrea Schäfer explains. She heads the Membrane Technology Division of the Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG) of KIT. “The concentration of fluoride and other pollutants, however, is balanced as soon as more water passes the filter again. Hence, the water is completely safe.”

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Old Posted Jun 24, 2014, 3:41 PM
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Rooftop Solar Leases Scaring Buyers When Homeowners Sell
By Will Wade Jun 24, 2014 7:03 AM PT

Dorian Bishopp blames the solar panels on his roof for costing him almost 10 percent off the value of the home he sold in March.

That’s because instead of owning them he leased the panels from SunPower Corp. (SPWR), requiring the new owner of the house to assume a contract with almost 19 years remaining. He had to shave the asking price for the house in Maricopa, Arizona, to draw in buyers unfamiliar with the financing arrangement.

Leasing is driving a boom in solar sales because most require no money upfront for systems that cost thousands of dollars. That’s made solar affordable for more people, helping spur a 38 percent jump in U.S. residential installations in the past year. Since the business model only gained currency in the past two years, the details embedded in the fine print of the deals are only starting to emerge.

“Homeowners don’t understand what they’re signing when they get into this,” said Sandy Adomatis, a home appraiser in Punta Gorda, Florida, who created the industry’s standard tool for valuing the systems. “You’ve got another layer to add on top of finding a buyer for the house. It’s not a plus.”

For people who own rooftop power systems, solar adds value to the home -- about $25,000 for the average installation in California, according to a study in December by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative.

Old coal mines set to be transformed into solar farms
Anesco announces plans for up to 30MW of solar capacity at collieries in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire

By Will Nichols
24 Jun 2014

Huge solar farms are set to transform former collieries into green energy powerhouses providing low carbon electricity for around 10,000 homes.

UK developer Anesco is set to install up to 30MW of solar energy capacity at three sites in Nottinghamshire, Welbeck Colliery in Mansfield, Gedling in Lambley and a third site in Bilsthorpe, while a fourth site at Askern in South Yorkshire is awaiting planning consent.

Work on the ground-mounted solar installations is expected to start later this year, with the sites expected to save 15 tonnes of carbon during each of its 25 years in operation.

Anesco said Welbeck Colliery is likely to be the first site to come online. The 32-acre installation will comprise of 44,160 solar panels mounted on around 15km of frames that have a combined generation capacity of 11.2MW - sufficient energy to power more than 3,450 homes in the local area. This will be followed by 5.74MW installations at both Gedling and Bilsthorpe, and an installation currently in the planning stage for Askern.

Two universities sign major deal for solar power
Posted on June 24, 2014 at 7:28 am by Associated Press in Solar

By Brett Zongker
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two universities in the nation’s capital have agreed to a major energy deal to buy more than half their power from three new solar power farms that will be built in North Carolina, the schools announced Monday night.

George Washington University, American University and the George Washington University Hospital announced the 20-year agreement with Duke Energy Renewables to reduce their carbon footprints by directly tapping solar energy.

The Capital Partners Solar Project will break ground this summer near Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Once fully operational in 2015 with 243,000 solar panels, the three solar farms are expected to generate 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Planners said that translates to eliminating about 60,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year or taking 12,500 cars off the road.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, said this is the nation’s largest nonutility solar power purchase. It will also create the largest photovoltaic solar power operation east of the Mississippi River.

“We’ll be directly sourcing our electricity from three solar energy sites,” said George Washington University President Steven Knapp. “We’re not just buying certificates for renewable energy. We’re actually directly sourcing from renewable energy. The impact of that is pretty huge.”

Canadian start-up gains funding for low-cost mono polysilicon
By Mark Osborne - 24 June 2014, 11:40
In News, Fab & Facilities, Materials, Finance

Canada-based start-up, Ubiquity Solar Inc has received CAD$3.1 million in funding to further develop its low-cost hyper-pure polysilicon and monocrystalline ingot/wafer technology, ahead of plans to commercialise the technology.

Funding was secured via a not-for-profit foundation funded by the Government of Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which will be used by Ubiquity Solar to support its US$10.9 million demonstration pilot plant project.

Ubiquity Solar has gathered a consortium of research institutes and universities to support the development of low-cost polysilicon and high-performance N-type and P-type monocrystalline ingots and wafers.

The consortium includes the University of Waterloo Centre for Advanced PV Devices and Systems, University of Toronto, McMaster University, Fraunhofer Centre for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP, ECN Solar Energy Silicon Photovoltaics, Si Con, Core Business Developers LLC, Jerry Olson Consulting, and DJ Met Consulting.

US media giant offers to pay employees to try solar
By Jake Richardson on 24 June 2014

Cox Enterprises is a broadcasting, publishing, and cable company that is running an employee program in conjunction with SolarCity that is a little unusual. It is paying eligible employees who want to try solar power $500. This effort might not sound so consequential, but Cox has about 50,000 employees and the ones living in areas where SolarCity operates will receive an additional $500.

“We know that money talks. So we decided to pay people to try solar,” explained Cox Chairman Jim Kennedy in a Fortune article.

He also mentioned that he talked with a current Cox employee about his home solar system, one that has allowed his annual energy costs to be trimmed down to $700. The system, he said, should pay for itself in about eight years, not an abnormal timeframe at all and maybe even longer than average for his area. About 100 Cox employees located in southern California have participated in the program so far. SolarCity does operate in California, so those southern California employees would be eligible for the $1,000 payout. Jim Kennedy hopes there will 1,000 employees in the program in a year.
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Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer
Jul 22, 2014

This drawing demonstrates how solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation. The pyramid structures made of silica glass provide maximal radiative cooling capability. Credit: L. Zhu, Stanford University.

Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells—keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday Sun.

By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers led by Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University in California has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation. The researchers describe their innovative design in the premiere issue of The Optical Society's (OSA) new open-access journal Optica.

Solar cells are among the most promising and widely used renewable energy technologies on the market today. Though readily available and easily manufactured, even the best designs convert only a fraction of the energy they receive from the Sun into usable electricity.

Part of this loss is the unavoidable consequence of converting sunlight into electricity. A surprisingly vexing amount, however, is due to solar cells overheating.
Under normal operating conditions, solar cells can easily reach temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) or more. These harsh conditions quickly sap efficiency and can markedly shorten the lifespan of a solar cell. Actively cooling solar cells, however—either by ventilation or coolants—would be prohibitively expensive and at odds with the need to optimize exposure to the Sun.

The newly proposed design avoids these problems by taking a more elegant, passive approach to cooling. By embedding tiny pyramid- and cone-shaped structures on an incredibly thin layer of silica glass, the researchers found a way of redirecting unwanted heat—in the form of infrared radiation—from the surface of solar cells, through the atmosphere, and back into space.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-self-co...power.html#jCp
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